A lacklustre Arsenal side fell out of the Europa League last night after a 0-0 draw with Villareal at the Emirates Stadium. This was not only their one chance at silverware this season, but also an opportunity to save a campaign that has failed on almost every front.
This has prompted reactions from fans and pundits alike about the current state of the club. Following their involvement with the European Super League last month, the fact that they are twelve points off the top four and the dismal display given by the talented group of players they have at their disposal.
This has led to questions being asked of the manager, the ownership and the club as a whole.
CBS analyst James Benge was one of the first to question the ability of manager Mikel Arteta to lift the squad after the game. The appointment of Arteta has been heavily questioned since the start of the season and may provide more evidence to his critics that he is not yet ready for a job of this magnitude.
Having been hired from Manchester City, where he worked as assistant coach under Pep Guardiola, many questioned his ability take on such an important job with so little managerial experience.
There have been successes, like Steven Gerrard at Rangers, but more often than not, like with Frank Lampard at Chelsea, they are just not ready yet.
Arteta has some big questions to answer, only time will tell if he’s still at the club to do so.
Darren Lewis of the Daily Mirror questioned the decision to substitute Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with ten minutes to go. After struggling for chances in the first place, Aubameyang was one of the few players to actually look like a threat; hitting the post twice in the game.
This does not reflect well on Arteta, a manager already struggling to prove he is capable of leading one of the country’s most famous clubs. In a game when all they needed was goals, the decision to take off your star striker seems counter intuitive at the very least.
Arsenal fans have never been particularly fond of owner Stan Kroenke, now more than ever it looks as though his time is drawing to a close. After their withdrawal from the infamous European Super League, Kroenke offered an apology that Jacque Talbot from Football365 has deemed “pithy” and insists that, “If Kroenke truly cared, he would sell Arsenal now”.
Matt Law at The Telegraph agrees, calling their ownership “the worst thing that has happened to that football club in my lifetime”. This defeat by Villareal showed a club with limitless potential, but a short-sightedness that can only hold them back. It may not be Arteta’s fault entirely that they are struggling, with every Arsenal manager working with very limited funds in comparison with the rest of the Premier League’s “Big Six”.
Spotify CEO Daniel Ek has been very publicly talking up a potential bid for the club and has the backing of Arsenal legends like Thierry Henry, though Kroenke has repeatedly stated he will not sell, maybe this is the lease of life Arsenal fans have been looking for.
This dismal draw does not present any new questions, but simply strengthens old arguments about the manager’s, owner’s and players’ capability to bring this club back to the level it once was at. Arsenal have been slowly falling apart for years now, but maybe this will be the shock to system that calls for real change.
Only time will tell.